Right to Review – Child Sexual Abuse Review Panel
TST is recommending member agencies and ISVAs to alert their clients to the new right to review which has just been established by the Crown Prosecution Service and Police. The issue of survivors feeling that their case has not been investigated thoroughly or that perpetrators have not been charged has caused great distress for many survivors over many years. Whilst the new right to review does not guarantee that a case will be re-investigated or that a decision not to charge will be overturned, there is at least now an opportunity for survivors to have the chance to challenge the outcome either with the Police or CPS.
ACPO and CPS have formed a child sexual abuse review panel to look at cases where the victim is not satisfied that their original allegation/s were dealt with appropriately.
The panel will review cases and advise whether the allegations should be either be reinvestigated by the police or whether the decision not to prosecute should be reviewed by the CPS. The case will be referred back to the police force or CPS Area where the case originated.
Cases can be referred to the panel either by the individual through a dedicated email address – firstname.lastname@example.org – which will automatically refer correspondence to the panel secretariat. Complainants can also request the police force or CPS Area that originally dealt with their allegation to refer their case to the review panel.
The panel will consider cases where these factors apply:
- the complaint is in respect of an alleged sexual offence committed against the complainant;
- the complaint of an allegation of an sexual offence has previously been made to the police;
- a decision to take no further action was taken by the police or by the CPS;
- the complainant has asked the police or the CPS to look again at that decision;
- the alleged sexual offence was committed when the complainant was under 18 years of age; and
- the alleged perpetrator/s may still pose a risk. (The threshold for risk is set very low and simply means that the perpetrator may currently or in the future have the opportunity to commit further offences)
There is no restriction on the context or setting of where the alleged offending behaviour took place for the purpose of the case being re-considered by the panel. However, the alleged offence must have been committed in England and Wales.
The panel will not consider cases if these factors apply:
- the complainant has not previously reported the matter to the police as this will therefore be a new complaint that the police will need to investigate;
- new evidence has come to light prompting a fresh investigation by the police;
- the allegation is of child sexual abuse alleged to have occurred after 5 June 2013 (the date of introduction of the Victims Right to Review in the CPS).
The panel will consist of a Chief Crown Prosecutor, an ACPO rank police officer, a specialist prosecutor, and experienced child abuse police investigator, and an appropriate independent representative.
Sole responsibility for taking this decision in the panel rests with the police and CPS members.
The independent representative in the panel will play an advisory role i.e. they will receive and consider the relevant information and provide views to the police and CPS members of the panel as to the decision they consider should be taken.